The Hollywood star from Frenchay

November 03 2017

THE HOLLYWOOD career of a local born actor will feature in a new exhibition about Frenchay School which was founded 175 years ago.

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THE HOLLYWOOD career of a local born actor will feature in a new exhibition about Frenchay School which was founded 175 years ago.

The exhibition, at Frenchay Museum, includes a display about Frenchay-born actor Nigel de Brulier, who was born Francis Packer and went on to have an illustrious career in the film industry.

Francis was born in one of the lodges of Frenchay Park in 1877 and was educated at Frenchay School until he was 11-years-old, when he left to start work in Frenchay Park House as a hall boy.

In 1897 he emigrated to America and later changed his name to Nigel de Brulier, the name he used when he featured in his Hollywood movies - beginning in 1914. 

He had a long and successful Hollywood career in both silent and sound films with major roles in many films including The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921), Salome (1922), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), and Ben Hur (1925). 

He made his last film, Tonight We Raid Calais, in 1943. According to the IMDB he featured in 119 films. He died in Los Angeles in 1948.

The exhibition also includes an original school desk, as well as period schoolbooks, lots of photographs, and other artefacts.

Amazingly, Frenchay School still occupies the same building, although Terrapin buildings have now been placed in the playground to increase its capacity.

The land on Frenchay Common to build the school was given by Hannah Rooke, of Frenchay Park, in 1842. Her husband George Worrall had given land on the Common to build the parish church in 1832. 

Shortly after George Worrall died in 1940, his wife changed her name to Rooke in order to inherit a relative’s property, and much later, in 1921, their home, Frenchay Park, became Frenchay Hospital. 

Frenchay Village Museum is at the junction of Begbrook Park and Frenchay Park Road. It’s open Saturday and Sunday from 2-5pm and Wednesday from 1-4pm. Entry is free.